8 Rules for Launching New Products

by | Nov 26, 2012 | Product Marketing, Quantify Customer Value, Sales

Guest Post by Ian Smith

New product development has been identified by industry leaders as the most important opportunity for capturing value and maximizing profit. The overall objective is to arrive at an appropriate launch price that truly reflects the fair share of the differential value created for the customer. Otherwise, the launch will fail to meet its financial targets. To accomplish this difficult task, product development must adopt an approach that incorporates a value-based strategy, taps into the enterprise’s expertise across functional silos, validates differential value using customer input, and uses value modeling to fine-tune unique customer value propositions.

Here are 8 quick rules that have helped beat the odds of successful product launch:

  1. The secret is alignment.  I call it the DSMO model. This stands for Development, Sales, Marketing and Operations. It ensures that when a product is launched the whole company is aligned behind it. The key is to ensure that no one area gets ahead of itself. There is no point in a great product launching on March 1st and then discovering that marketing has not constructed their value messages or that the sales team is poorly trained. Or the operations team has no clear guidance on how to invoice the client or is unaware of the various pricing models. So creating parallel lines is the key with one overall project champion in charge and separate heads for each discipline; development, sales, marketing and operations.
  2. Build a funnel of great ideas from the ground up using customers, staff, partners, and competitors, brainstorming sessions. Note I highly recommend getting real sales professionals in the room who actually talk to customers and understand their world.
  3. Get marketing started on positioning the product against the competition. Define the business results that will be achieved and build a story around how customers will USE the product. Be crystal clear on the audience/persona who will buy the product. Talk in their language not yours. How does the product help their business, in economic terms? Let the web site tell that story. Ensure development works closely with marketing to build a great web site including self-help videos and FAQs.
  4. Build guidance notes for demos for the sales teams and engineers. It’s theater, write a script. The most relaxed presenter has practiced 10 times for every real delivery.
  5. The new product team needs to meet regularly with the overall project manager, head of development/design, marketing manager, sales manager and the ops head. This will ensure that cross-silo issues are dealt with in a timely and efficient manner. Religious use of checklists with names and dates are mandatory.
  6. Use milestones to ensure the launch date is on track. Planes crash because of what happens at 10,000 feet, not 1000 feet. If trajectories are wrong they need correcting early.
  7. Mimic how the product will operate within your portfolio of products long before launch date. Imagine how you will deal with the product life-cycle in terms of capacity, storage, servicing.
  8. Build momentum towards a date ensuring that the final product (at least the first version) is consistent with the narrative and processes created in sales, marketing and ops.
Ian Smith is the author of Fulfilling the Potential of Your Business: Big Company Thinking for the Mighty Small Business, which won the Small Business Book Awards for Management in 2012. His blog, The Smith Report, focuses on ways to scale businesses to build value. In 2010 he founded The Portfolio Partnership to help CEOs fulfill the potential of their businesses. As an ex-CFO, investment banker, venture capitalist and CEO, Mr. Smith has realized more than $400 million for shareholders over the past 25 years. He remains a competitive masters track & field athlete and in 2012 was ranked #2 indoors in the world for his age at 400m.

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